- February 5, 2014
Franciscan monastery’s case at national level
For 20 years the Order of Friars Minor Conventual has been struggling for getting back their monastery in Trocka Street in Vilnius. Lithuanian government, despite declarations that it will resolve the problem, does not actually take action to enhance the process of returning to the Franciscans their property seized by the Soviets.
The monastery by the Assumption of Mary’s Church in Vilnius, which was nationalised in 1940 by the Soviet government, after Lithuania’s regaining independence was repossessed by Pranciškonų Rūmai partnership (the Franciscan Palace) that comes under the Lithuanian Assembly of Scientific and Technical Associations. After many problematic proceedings, on February 2013 the Court decided that the monastery buildings should return to the state. At the end of October 2013, the government, instead of passing them to the Order, it handed them over to the National Property Fund until the clarification if there were any changes or rebuildings in the monastery. For the next three months, the case has not developed.
The case of returning the property to the Franciscans was one of the subjects of the bilateral Coordinative Commission on the Holy See Agreements’ Realisation. Among the commission’s members are representatives of the government and the Catholic Church.
The monastery’s guardian and the Assumption of Mary’s Church’s rector, Father Marek Dettlaff, who participated in the meeting, said that it is important that the Lithuanian Episcopal Conference spoke out for the return of the property. Nevertheless, the situation has not changed and the monastery still belongs to the National Property Fund.
“The government says, as it said before, that it is open-minded and it wants to return the buildings. But, in addition, it wants also to to make professional evaluation, which is not necessary in the legal sense because the evaluation of this sort was made during the court trial and it demonstrated that there were no rebuildings of the monastery”, Father Dettlaff said. This fact was also confirmed by the Monument Protection Department.
In spite of the fact that the Episcopal Conference submitted a request to proceed as it had been done during possession returns cases, the government persists in the additional evaluation. During the Coordinative Commision’s meeting, the representative of the Government’s Administrative Office informed that the performance competition for a contractor of the evaluation would be held. The whole process of evaluation will last at least 6-8 months.
“We have proved that there was no such thing. The law says that the evaluation must be held if there are visible changes of structure, construction of a building. If there are no visible changes, it is not necessary. Well, the government will spend money on the evaluation”, Father Marek Dettlaff claimed.
He also added that, in this situation, there is nothing he can do, but be careful and watch out that there will not be some rebuildings of the monastery indeed.
Tłumaczenie by Szymon Wnuk w ramach praktyk w Europejskiej Fundacji Praw Człowieka, www.efhr.eu. Translated by Szymon Wnuk within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.